Create inspiration boards, share ideas with your friends and wedding vendors, get feedback from brides like you, and lots more!
How do you sift through all the wedding inspiration to create an event that's a true reflection of you as a couple? With so many ideas out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed when planning your big day. Sometimes the wedding industry or even family and friends have their own ideas of what your wedding should look like.
For a little perspective on this issue, we recently chatted with wedding planner Beth Helmstetter. She's one of our favorite wedding planners and designers, assisting everyone from celebrities and athletes to everyday brides and grooms in planning their weddings. Beth's design sense (pretty and effortless, we think!), business savvy, and calm demeanor make her the perfect partner to plan your wedding with. Luckily, Beth was kind enough to share some planning ideas with us. Here are Beth's top five tips for creating a personalized wedding concept:
1. Do What You Love
Forget everything you've ever heard about having to have a set color scheme, crisp white linens, classic tuxedos and so on. When designing your wedding, think about what you really love and find a way to pull it together. It doesn't have to "match" it just has to reflect your style. If you are clean and modern, go that direction. If you are a classic beauty, let that inspire your day. If you are eclectic in your every day life, then why would your wedding be any different?
2. Consider Approachability above Over-the-Top
The most successful weddings are not necessarily the most expensive. Instead they are the ones that create a comfortable atmosphere where guests can relax and enjoy. I like to throw in a few simple but unexpected details to remind guests that they are not at their every day wedding.
3. Go Residential
When thinking about comfort, what comes to mind? For me and many of my clients, it's our homes. Adding touches throughout your event that remind people of being at home such as couches, rugs and dressers is not only a great design addition but also a good way to set the tone for your guests.
4. Make Your Own Rules
Don't be confined by tradition and etiquette unless that's who you are as a couple. Breaking the rules a bit can not only be fun, but also give your guests a new experience. A great example is the "tattoo parlor" that was at one of our recent events. The couple was a little edgy and this was the perfect favor and activity for their style.
5. Be the Life of the Party
If you want to have a wedding where guests dance into the wee hours of the night, then you must dance until the wee hours of the night. If you want a low-key dinner party with great conversation, then start talking. Simply put, guests are there to celebrate you and will follow your lead in how to act at your wedding day.
For a celebration that is truly about you and your love, consider adapting some of Beth's tips to your own wedding plan. Toss the rules out the window, forget about impressing people and stay true to who you are in your everyday life.
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Canlas. Special thanks to Beth Helmstetter.
Your vision of your wedding day is absolutely perfect – complete with smiling bridesmaids, charming groom and breathtaking décor. No matter how much planning and scheming you do to make your ceremony perfect, though – you simply can’t control what Mother Nature has in store for your big day. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you prepare for bad wedding weather.
Photo by Lucida Photography
If you will be having an outdoor wedding, it’s important that you have a plan B if bad wedding weather should come your way. The last thing you want is for all of your guests to become soaked and dripping during the ceremony. There are several options you can use to protect your guests and keep the ceremony going.Tents – if you live in an area of the country where rain showers or thunder storms can visit unexpectedly, tents are a great way to keep dry. There are even massive tents available which would accommodate the entire reception. The thing to remember about this option is that it can get pretty hot under those tents and pretty expensive as well.
Moving Indoors – having a plan B is pretty important if you want your wedding to continue without many problems. If you’ll be having your wedding on the grounds of a hotel or mansion, can you move indoors if need be? Speak with the staff and determine what is appropriate if the need should arise– chances are they’ve dealt with bad wedding weather before!
Alternative Venue – although this is a bit of a frustration and can cost an arm and a leg, you might consider having an alternative venue for the reception if it looks like it will rain during the ceremony. You need careful planning in advance so you can easily move to the alternate location on the day of the wedding if need be.
Other Ways to Prepare for Bad Wedding Weather
Think about your wedding location and time of year and consider what sorts of bad wedding weather you may have to deal with. For instance, if you choose to marry on a beautiful beach, it could probably get pretty windy. You may want to plan an updo rather than leaving your hair down, and provide some sort of shelter. If a rather large breeze picks up, you don’t want sand flying into your guests’ eyes and hair.
On the other hand, it has been said that rain on the wedding day ensures that the bride will shed no tears during her marriage. If it does rain on your wedding day, just remember that rain is considered a blessing rather than a bad omen; contrary to popular belief. If you plan for bad wedding weather early in the planning, you can be prepared to switch things up at the last minute and still enjoy your beautiful day!
Bridal Shower Games - Bingo!
Bridal shower bingo is a fun variation on traditional bingo that's an enjoyable way to pass the time at bridal showers. Like regular bingo, bridal shower bingo uses a card with five rows, each of which has five boxes. But instead of numbers, in bridal shower bingo each box has a wedding-related word or words, such as newlywed, honeymoon ... or even bridal shower.
Playing bridal shower bingo is a terrific, easy-to-play bridal shower activity - everyone knows how to play bingo, so there's no need for any complicated instructions. Pre-printed or blank cards for bridal shower bingo can be purchased as party stores or ordered online. Many websites offer free printable cards for bridal shower bingo, or you can make customized bridal shower bingo cards on your home computer. By making the bridal shower bingo cards yourself, they can include the names of the bride and groom and other personalized words, like the wedding location and/or theme.
Another way to customize bridal shower bingo is to give each guest a blank card when she arrives, and ask her to fill in the boxes with shower gifts she thinks the bride is going receive. (Since it's unlikely that more than 24 totally different gifts - the number of empty boxes on each card - will be given, especially at a small party, it's okay to write the same gift in two separate boxes.) When it's time to open the gifts, each guest will cross off her own bridal shower bingo card, and the first one to get five in a row wins a prize.
Bridal shower bingo is played just like regular bingo. In advance, the hostess will have compiled a long list of wedding-related words and written each one on slips of papers, which are then folded and put in a paper bag. Every guest is given a marker and a bridal shower bingo card with 24 of the wedding-related words printed on it in random order - like conventional bingo, the middle square is "FREE". When bridal shower bingo is played, the slips are drawn out one at a time, the hostess announces the word on each, and guests then look for that word on their bridal shower bingo card and cross it off if they have it. The winner is the first guest who gets five marked-off squares in a straight line, either horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
Depending on the number of bridal shower bingo cards that are prepared in advance and how long it takes to play the game, bridal shower bingo can be played more than once during a shower. If the first game goes very quickly and the guests seem really into it, play a second game of bridal shower bingo right away. Have the winner of the first game be the one to call out the words in the second game of bridal shower bingo.
Here's a sample bridal shower bingo game card from bridalshowerbingo.org, which provides free printable cards and instructions on putting together your own customized version of bridal shower bingo:
While some women have been choosing their bridesmaids since they first caught sight of a wedding dress (like at age five)...others tend to gravitate to close companions, sisters, and favorite cousins. However, choosing bridesmaids can affect some of the details of wedding and you never want to settle for selecting someone just because you feel obligated. This is your special day and in order to make sure that it unfolds accordingly, don’t let others put pressure on your decisions.
Photo by Paper Antler
Choosing the Number of Bridesmaids
For some, limiting the number of bridesmaids means cutting the overall wedding costs for flowers, dresses, shoes, accessories, gifts, luncheon costs, and the rehearsal dinner. You should research potential costs before choosing bridesmaids to make sure you have enough money for their inclusion. Also, never ask a friend to become your bridesmaid if your only reason is that you were part of her wedding.
Choosing the Right Bridesmaids
A bridal party usually consists of between two to 12 attendants. Who do you want to turn to when important decisions arise; your final days as a bachelorette near; and you need a shoulder to cry on? If you want a drama-free wedding, I suggest considering bridesmaids that embody the role of the perfect 'little helper.' A few qualities to consider, include:
Cooperative: Since this is your special day, chosen bridesmaids should be willing to wear a dress that may not look flattering or appeal to their personal preferences. While you can always listen to the concerns of your bridesmaids, they shouldn’t demand the type of dress they will wear.
Reliable: There will be fittings, rehearsals, and of course, the ceremony to tend to. Choose bridesmaids that will arrive on time and are ready to shine.
Helpful: Bridesmaids that are willing to help out at every turn will make your life much easier. Consider the women in your life most likely to assist in shopping, running errands, and handling pesky wedding details.
When choosing bridesmaids, there is another consideration to keep in mind. What additional costs or arrangements are needed when you choose an attendant that lives out of town? For starters, she's going to need a place to stay when she comes to try on dresses and/or attend other wedding-related get-togethers. It is common for the bride to foot the bill for out-of-the-ordinary expenses connected to the wedding.
Overall, bridesmaids are there to help a bride keep her sanity while traveling the road heading towards matrimony. Who will share this important journey with you?
To Wear: We dressed our bride in a clever, interchangeable ensemble from Elizabeth Dye. The exquisite, structured top is made from silk satin. Multiple skirt options make sure you are dressed right for the day's festivities. For the ceremony, we added a soft tulle skirt, dyed to just the right "ballerina pink" hue. A large handmade flower completes the look with a sweet silk flower in her hair as well. For the after party, consider this adorable green silk organza skirt! Paired with some killer high heels, it will ensure you have lots of fun at your party. A fluff of handmade poppies and roses embellish the waistline.Our bride rocked two hair styles. A soft, side chignon and a sweet and flirty side braid. Both created by Madeline Roosevelt.
To Decorate: Our deceptively elegant table is really quite budget friendly. We started with basic rentals: ivory linen cloth (to the floor) and gold Chivari chairs. Homemade linen napkins and thrifted plates and utensils make up the place settings. For the centerpiece, we gathered inexpensive gold candlesticks from thrift stores (around $1 each). The gorgeous, tall candles are from our favorite candle company, Creative Candles. They have a wide array of colors so you can find the perfect hue for your table. Two sweet flower pots of peony stems complete the look. For fun, we added some gold swans! Two thrifted swans (less than $5 at a thrift store) were added to the table. We also decorated the room with a few larger gold swans filled with peonies.
To Eat: Instead of a traditional wedding cake, consider a croquembouche! A croquembouche is French dessert made from a tower of cream puffs and is dressed with caramel. Not only is it delicious, but it's gorgeous and festive as well! Ours is from Portland-based La Provence Bakery.
Enjoy implementing these playful but elegant touches to your wedding!
Credits + Sources:
Photography: Lisa Warninger. Dresses + wardrobe styling: Elizabeth Dye. Hair and Makeup: Madeline Roosevelt. Prop and floral styling: Chelsea Fuss.Model: Hannah Osborn. Assistants: Lauren Willhite and Amber Johnstun. Headband: Twigs and Honey. Additional flowers: The English Dept. Table card holder: Cabin 7. Large gold swans: Fish Bone Deco. Croquembouche: La Provence Bakery. Candles: Creative Candles.
Whether you want to get married with the summer sun shining upon your face or need to work your plans around family and friends, setting the wedding date can become a much trickier task than first expected. When setting the wedding date, it is important to take notice to the many factors that can affect the planning of nuptials. For example, will your favorite uncle be able to attend? Is it possible to book the church of your choice in less than six months?
A few factors to consider when setting the wedding date, include:
Setting the Wedding Date First
Most couples usually have preconceived notions for their wedding date, which may include the season, holiday ideas, sentimental value, and overall time of the year. It is quite popular to decide on a date first and then locate sites and services that work around your decision.
Setting the Wedding Date Second
However, there are some couples who have their heart set on a winery wedding in June or a particular destination, which sometimes requires setting the wedding date after the ceremony location, reception site, and other related services (like caterer or photographer) have been selected.
Family and Friends' Schedules
When you begin the not-so-easy task of setting the wedding date, I am almost positive a few glitches or complications will emerge. It's pretty obvious that planning a wedding close to Christmas will surely produce a few no-shows, but did you count on Grandma's gall bladder surgery scheduled for July? If you are dead-set on having close friends and family members at your wedding, then it's a good idea to check any unforeseeable events in their lives that could disrupt their attendance.
Consider the Wedding Party
Setting the date for a wedding will ultimately affect the people closest to you. Will all your bridesmaids be able to attend? For out-of-town attendants, will weather conditions pose a problem? What about vacations that attendants and guests may already have planned for the summer months?
Wedding Site Availability
Take into account the busy schedules of the churches, synagogues, and other wedding sites.
Are you planning to wed at a facility with a reputation of seeing its fair share of father-daughter dances? It's a good idea to check availability for the facilities and sites you already have in mind. Some locations are booked solid for years in advance.
Don't forget to research the wedding related services of your choice. For example, some photographers are in extremely high demand for their wedding services, while it's a good thing to know that the pastry chef of your choice vacations in October.
Photos by Gene Higa
It's the place where family and friends gather to enjoy heartfelt toasts and comical best man speeches…the place where roses and fondant bring wedding cake dreams to life…and where the 'first dance' melts the hearts of onlookers. Thanks to the reception venue, we share that unforgettable moment when a newly married couple first greets the public as 'husband' and 'wife.'
How will you plan one of the most important parties of your life?
I hate to break your thoughts of clinking champagne glasses and tossing the fateful bouquet of flowers, but there's a bit of planning to sort out. Locating and securing the perfect reception venue for your wedding depends on many different factors.
Photos by KT Merry
I probably don’t have to tell you that one of the hardest aspects of planning a wedding is sticking to a budget and juggling the costs of both necessities and desires. Whether your reception is held at a ritzy hotel, winery, or backyard – get a good grasp on your expenses. What will everything cost? For rented reception venues, don’t forget to inquire about cake cutting fees, silverware, tables and chairs, and cleanup options. Also, read the fine print regarding the food and drink minimum.
Read local reception reviews now!
In the hustle and bustle of preparation, I know you'll want to visit your reception venue at least a couple of times before your big day. We've all heard about the decorating drama and last-minute snafus that have happened to the next bride. However, if it takes an hour or so to drive out to the venue, you risk facing a cumbersome journey when you need to iron out minor details.
The location of your reception venue also plays an important role. For starters, will it provide ample parking for your guests? Will guests have trouble locating the venue? Lastly, how far do you want family and friends to travel after the festivities have come to a close? While you want to host an unforgettable celebration, take into account the safety, convenience, and comfort that your reception venue will provide.
Photo by Annabella Charles
Choosing a suitable wedding reception venue will most certainly help set the tone for your special day. Does the reception venue complement the number of guests you expect to attend? Is there enough room to accommodate all involved, including the band, serving lines, and mingling singles? Do you want an intimate, cozy setting or a larger-than-life extravaganza that resonates with matrimonial bliss? When you step into a possible reception venue, does the space feel 'right?'
Overall, the reception venue provides the setting where guests and the wedding party can let down their hair, share good times, and admire the twinkling eyes of newlyweds in love. It's also the perfect time for you to let out that deep sigh of relief – I'm married now!
When it comes to cutting wedding costs, it is important to learn the difference between fleeting moments of fun and cherished memories that last a lifetime. Do you think it matters more if the hottest DJ in town spins records at your reception or if you have a dazzling photo album to show your grandkids? If you need to adhere to a certain budget or wish to save money on your nuptials, I suggest you avoid cutting wedding costs in the following categories:
Photo by Nadia D Photography
1) Wedding Rings
While the thought of expensive centerpieces and imported red roses sound perfect for your wedding, they cannot compare to the significance of your wedding rings. When a bride and groom slip this symbol of everlasting love and commitment on their fingers – it should be a choice that overshadows any other details of the wedding. Your wedding ring will last a lifetime and if you're cutting wedding costs, this should be the last item on your list to consider.
2) Wedding Dress
A happy bride that beams with beauty is one who feels comfortable in her wedding dress. If that means going the extra mile with a custom-made ballroom gown, then so be it. When cutting wedding costs, try to eliminate the fancy invitations and ice sculptures before downsizing your wedding dress. Remember – ice melts and invitations collect dust, but the memory of slipping into your wedding gown will last forever.
3) Reception Food
A great deal of your budget will be spent on catering your wedding reception. However, cutting wedding costs for reception food can leave your guests hungry, thirsty, tired, and less likely to feel energized for an event focused on non-stop celebration, laughs, and hearty toasts.
4) Capturing Wedding Memories
When it's all said and done, vows exchanged, wedding cake devoured, and first dances complete, how will you remember the intricate details of your wedding? When cutting wedding costs, leave room for your memories to breathe. If you can help it, don't settle for an amateur photographer or enlist the help of your cousin with his digital camera. Capture your wedding memories professionally.
What about a videographer? If you must choose between having a video of your special day and investing in a decent wedding photographer, consider the pros and cons of each method, but in the end – a classic black and white photo usually trumps a recording of your special day.
Where will you spend your first moments as husband and wife? Cutting wedding costs may mean enjoying a better honeymoon destination and/or package. It's OK to forego gilded embossed invitations, arrange your own flowers, or eliminate the limousine ride to and from the reception for the entire wedding party. Some people wind up not being able to honeymoon after the wedding because they've spent all of their money on the frills of an elaborate reception.
Cutting wedding costs doesn’t mean cutting off a limb – with careful discussion, you'll find that not everything is a 'must-have' when it comes to planning your nuptials.
Planning a walk down the aisle involves much more effort than making important decisions and setting dates – you also have to exercise a bit of wedding etiquette throughout the entire process. Every bride and groom will face obstacles and moments when they must bite their tongue. However, knowing how to avoid some of the potential disasters that can threaten your special day means getting acquainted with the following wedding etiquette.
Wedding Etiquette: InvitationsChildren Showing Up at an Adult Reception: Some people are dead-set on toting their children wherever they go, but if you don’t envision the pitter-patter of little feet at your wedding, it's important that you break the news firmly, yet gently. When addressing your invitations, do not include the names of their children. If you'd like to be a little clearer on your invitations – add the words 'adult reception' to invitations and state the number of seats reserved in their names. For an extra boost, have family and friends send along the word that you don't want children to attend your wedding festivities.
Unknown Guests: If you'd rather see the bright and shining faces of loved ones on your special day, wedding etiquette states to make sure single guests and all other parties are aware that they cannot bring a friend along for the event.
Forgetting Important Guests: Don’t run into the wedding etiquette disaster of forgetting to send invitations to your officiant and their significant other. Your parents and wedding party should also receive invitations. They don’t have to reply, but they make great keepsakes.
RSVP: Don’t forget to place return postage on your RSVP's.
Wedding Etiquette: Seating ChartsMake It Fun for All: Wedding etiquette suggests that creating seating groups according to their relation to one another or age will ensure a good time for all. Allow aunts and uncles to catch up with one another. Separate teenagers from adults and the 'kiddie' table. And, don’t place relatives that don’t get along at the same table. You don't want to come face-to-face with that kind of wedding etiquette disaster.
Easy Navigation: Don’t force guests to waste time searching for their assigned seats. Make sure clearly visible numbers are used to identify reception tables.
Wedding Etiquette: Wedding GiftsMaking Demands: A wedding etiquette no-no is placing phrases like "cash only gifts" on your invitations – that's just plain rude!
Opening Presents: In case you were wondering, you're not breaking any wedding etiquette rules if you don’t open your presents in front of guests at the reception.
With a beach wedding reception, it's OK to wear a sundress and surrender to the swish of sand between your toes. In most cases, it's time to say goodbye to restricting formalwear and 'hello' to a casual celebration with the ones you love. From roasting marshmallows and sipping champagne by a bonfire to releasing Chinese lanterns into the sea, beach receptions are downright fun!
Why Choose a Beach Wedding Reception?Perfect for carefree and laidback couples The ocean air and relaxing waves Ties into some honeymoon plans Fits a tropical wedding theme Beautiful sunsets
Photos by Jillian Mitchell
Beach Wedding Reception Ideas
Tap into the versatility and beauty of a beach wedding reception site's scenery and natural elements by creating centerpieces with romantic sandcastles decorated with seashells. Why not adorn the center of beach reception tables with candles tied with turquoise ribbon and situated in the middle of gold-trimmed ivory plates surrounded by white chocolate seashells? You could also use mini-fishbowls filled with blue-tinted water to hold bouquets of hydrangeas and white peonies.
The Pros and Cons of a Beach Wedding Reception Site
There's nothing more romantic than holding onto the one you love, as the fiery glow of the sun disappears behind open waters. Take a deep breath in, as it's your special day and you are surrounded by the calm waves of nature. A beach reception is a great idea for laidback couples looking for a casual affair. Guests can let down their hair in comfort, slipping into flip-flops and leaving high-heeled shoes at home. You'll also save money in the long run, as a beach reception typically doesn’t serve a catered dinner. Guests with children will also feel comfortable bringing their little ones along to enjoy your celebration.
Temperatures are always a bit cooler when situated close to a body of water. A beach wedding reception is always in danger of feeling the chill of brisk winds and sustaining unexpected changes in weather. Plus, when the sun sets – you should plan on bringing out the sweaters or arrange for heated tents. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a Plan B if Mother Nature decides to interrupt your party. When it comes to your guests, some may not feel comfortable taking off their shoes and kicking back in a beach setting, especially if they are afraid of water.
A beach wedding reception also requires permission from local authorities; so don’t overlook the importance of obtaining a permit for large numbers. You may also run into a few rules of the beach, which could involve the use of candles, playing music at night, open fires, and how long you can party. Since you're outside, don’t forget about bugs and beaming rays of sun. Make sure to supply guests with plenty of insect repellant and sunscreen.